A will is an important part of an estate plan. Knowing who your assets will go to after you pass away gives you and your family members peace of mind and often saves time and reduces conflict.
However, life is unpredictable, and you may decide that you want to make changes to your will if your life circumstances change. While you can modify the terms of an existing will, revoking your current will and drafting a new one is sometimes easier.
Revoking a will must be done properly. It is a step that can be easily overlooked. You cannot simply make a new will and assume the old one is no longer valid.
To make matters more complicated, the proper way to revoke a will in Louisiana depends on the type of will you have.
Revocation rules for notarial and olographoic wills
There are two types of wills in Louisiana: notarial wills and olographic wills. A notarial will is a will that is in writing, dated and notarized in front of two witnesses. An olographic will is entirely handwritten. It must be handwritten, dated and signed by you to be valid.
You generally always have a right to revoke your will, although if you are suffering from a condition such as dementia, an argument could be made that you were not in your right mind and did not intend to revoke your will.
There are various ways to revoke a notarial will. You can revoke it by physically destroying it. You can also write, sign and date a statement that clearly states you are revoking your will.
If you have a new will drafted, your new will should state that you clearly revoke the first will, or all previous wills before that one. This is important because if you later revoke the new will, your first will would automatically be revived if you did not properly revoke it.
If you have an olographic will, since it is handwritten, you can revoke it by physically destroying it, erasing the words or crossing out the words. You might want to revoke certain parts of an olographic will, but not others, you can erase or cross out the parts you want revoked.
Revoking a will and not creating a new one
When your will is properly revoked and you execute a new will, the terms of your new will control. Unfortunately, sometimes a will is revoked, and a person passes away before a new one is created.
In those cases, Louisiana’s intestacy laws may be followed, which are laws created for people who pass away without a will.
Even if you do everything properly, the revocation of a will can cause confusion, leading to succession disputes. Getting advice and guidance through the revocation process can help reduce this confusion and decrease the chance of a conflict.